Date: 14 October 2013 Source: Office of the Minister of Conservation
Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith is requiring the Department of Conservation to review the standards and back-up containment of all fuel tanks in National Parks.
“Our National Parks are our most valued natural environments and I expect the highest standards for storing fuel in these areas. The spill at Turoa ski field was unacceptable and we need to do everything possible to prevent a re-occurrence anywhere else on public conservation land,” Dr Smith says.
“I have asked that DOC’s review particularly focus on the 16 ski fields operating on public conservation land. There are additional risks for storing fuel in alpine environments and the areas are also more ecologically fragile.
“Skiing and snowboarding are wonderful recreational opportunities for people to enjoy in our alpine environments but they need to be managed in a way that avoids these sorts of serious environmental incidents from occurring.
“The review will look at the standards for fuel storage and the inspection regimes to ensure they comply with requirements for bunds to contain any accidental spills. The review is separate to the investigation by the Horizons Regional Council into the Turoa incident and any decision on whether any party will face prosecution.
“The review may result in changes to concessions that involve storing fuel on public conservation land. DOC may also seek external expert advice on its own systems to better manage these risks. I expect the review to be completed and recommendations implemented in time for next year’s ski season.
“The diesel spill has not only damaged the environment in our oldest National Park but has also polluted the Makotuku River, which is a habitat for the endangered whio or blue duck, and severely disrupted the Raetihi water supply. We need to tighten up the standards for fuel storage on public conservation land to prevent this sort of environmental harm in our most fragile and valued areas of New Zealand.”
Rachael Bruce, +64 21 841 087